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Episode hosted by: Paul Frampton, Global President at CvE.
Paul Frampton – 00:00:01: Welcome back to another episode of Time for a Reset. I’m your host, Paul Frampton. And today I’m delighted to be joined by Mark Caulfield. Mark and I actually worked together a while back within Havas, and so we were just catching up on old times and we both spent a lot of time in the similar industry and both have had pivotal moments that have changed our direction of our careers. So this is going to be a super interesting conversation. Mark, I think, spent 28 years in the media industry working for various agencies, and then he went client side. So he went and became a marketing director at Bourne Leisure. And then he got to a point where he realized he really needed to lean into an area that he was hugely passionate about, which was actually helping people to get the right balance, the right mental health, right wellness balance, but through a performance lens. A balancing people being able to be okay and have the right work life balance, but still be brilliant at what they did. So Mark these days is a consultant in that space. He advises many different types of businesses on how they get that right balance. So I’m really excited to have this conversation because I think hopefully we’ll share some insights about how to get that right balance, which I think is something that all of us struggle with, at least at some point during our career. So welcome, Mark.
Marc Caulfield – 00:01:31: Hi, Paul. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I’m very excited. It’s been quite a few years. I think we were trying to work out, weren’t we? And I don’t think we really want to know, but it is significant.
Paul Frampton – 00:01:42: It is significant.
Marc Caulfield – 00:01:43: A significant amount of years, yes. It’s a good way of putting it.
Paul Frampton – 00:01:47: So, first off, Mark, I think, you know, where we start is in the wider industry that we’ve spent most of our lives in. What would you most like to hit reset on?
Marc Caulfield – 00:02:00: Sure. Well, for me, the one thing that I always learnt when I was certainly in the advertising business and since I’ve been running my own thing, which covers multiple different categories, is people are absolutely the most important thing that any business has. There’s a couple of things that I have a major issue with. One is when people are referred to as assets, people are not assets, cars are assets or houses are assets. For me, really, I would like people to put the money where the mouth is and actually start acting people first. The advertising business, my old business, your business, was absolutely classic at talking about people first, but in reality, it always put clients first. And that, I felt, has led to lots and lots of burnout and lots of personal issues for lots of people within that. So, for me, it’s about not being a tick box and actually, actively doing what you say and put your people front and center of what you do great.
Paul Frampton – 00:03:02: I love that. Very clear. So maybe we should start by hearing a bit more about your personal story, Mark, because I think the truth behind what you experienced is probably why you’re so passionate in this area. So would you would you mind sharing a little bit about why you pivoted from agency marketing into what you do today?
Marc Caulfield – 00:03:22: Yeah, of course. Absolutely. So I started in the advertising business back in 1989, which was some time ago, and I did very well. I rose up through the ranks very quickly. I was a board director of a big agency. By the time I was 28, I had done really, really well. But the whole way through that, there was this, I suppose, underlying feeling of, am I really good enough? And every time I’d kind of questioned myself with that, I would kind of go, well, hold on a second. But I’m in this position, I’ve been put in this position by bright people, by smart people who know what they’re looking at, and I am performing, so I don’t see what the problem is. But over time, I think that impostor syndrome, if you like, started to grow bigger and bigger and bigger. And what I found was. I sort of got myself into a position where the whole kind of party world of the advertising business and the amount of work hard, play hard type attitude started to catch up with me.
And I was drinking too much and doing coke and doing all this sort of stuff over and over again. And what I found was I had got to a point when I had risen very quickly and the stuff that I used to adore doing were things like new business pitching, conference speaking, standing on a platform, all of this sort of stuff was great. I used to get a real buzz out of it, but suddenly, and it happened quite quickly, I had one really, really bad new business pitch and I don’t know what happened. It was a really horrible, horrible experience. What I actually discovered years later was it was a panic attack. And it was effectively I couldn’t get my words out, and it was like someone had me around the throat and was throttling me. And that was really, I suppose, the start of starting to really question myself and almost this, yeah, you see, I told you you weren’t good enough. Something’s not quite right here. And without going into a load of personal history, but I’ve had a difficult upbringing. Parents got divorced when I was very young. My mum had a relationship with someone until I was 14. That went horribly wrong. I’ve been divorced twice myself and there was a whole array of stuff in the background that had never been dealt with. And I suppose it really could have manifested itself in me drinking more, partying more, thinking that was the solution, thinking, I’ll be fine, I’ll just carry on. I’ll carry on or carry on. And actually, really, it manifests itself in a situation where I remember these this time very clearly. I was on the train home. This happened about, I don’t know, five or six days in a row. And I was on the train home quite late at night, probably with a belly full of wine and a nose full of Coke, no doubt at the time, and burst into tears. And it happened six or seven times in a row, and these were packed trains. I’m not saying I was not a crier, but it wasn’t necessarily the environment I would have chosen. And I genuinely thought, my God, what’s going on? And there was this kind of rising feeling, this compression around my chest, not being able to breathe, and just feeling really awful, like I was really struggling. And effectively, it was a panic attack. I then eventually got the courage up to make what was without a doubt, the most scary phone call of my life. Since then, I’ve done two TED Talks. I’ve stood on the BAFTA stage and done a big presentations. I’ve done enormous pictures. I’ve done all these sorts of things. Nothing was remotely as scary as picking the phone up to try and find a therapist. That was the biggest, scariest conversation of my life. And I went through this process, and I finally found someone who was great. That took me four or five attempts to find that person. Anyway, I found someone who was amazing, and I spent the next five years in psychotherapy and started to uncover all of this stuff, okay? And that’s really what piqued my interest. That’s what made me go, oh, hold on a second. This is what interests me. And I suddenly found myself reading book after book after book after book and having really quite detailed conversations with my therapist and starting to understand the power of talking the power of talking to someone who will never judge you. I mean, she was phenomenal. Some of the stuff I told this lady, no one else will ever know about me. And it was just incredible. It was just this wonderful thing. And I did this five years in two stages. I did three and a half years and then had a gap for about a year and then went back. Okay. And when I came out of this situation, which was finally ended, because she said to me, look, you are solving all of your problems. You’re coming in here with a massive deal. I’m not saying a word. And by the end of this hour, you’ve solved it. You know how to deal with this. You know you well enough. And it was just this amazing, you know, life changing experience. I mean, I must admit, when I left, I was in tears because I was thinking, but who am I going to speak to on a Monday night? Who am I going to tell anything I want to. And she said, you could try that with your wife. By that point, unfortunately, it was a little late. But anyway and for me, I then carried on in the business for so this would have been I’m trying to think when this must have been 10, 15 years ago. I carried on in the business for quite some time after that. But this seed never left my head. And I just continue to see poor behavior, bad leadership decisions, bad behavior with people using people like an asset, pushing them, pushing them, pushing them until they break and then bidding them and getting another one. Now, I know the world’s got a bit better since those days, but it still happens. Believe you me. It happens in every single area that I work in. And it just got me thinking this has to stop. And that is really the driving force that made me change my life and change what I did and actually wanted to make that difference and wanted to make leaders understand they are dealing with, they are leading human beings. There are very few people who have the privilege in life to lead human beings. And that’s what drove me to start my business.
Paul Frampton – 00:09:52: Thank you, Mark. I really appreciate you sharing that. That was obviously a pretty personal story and I think there’s a lot of takeaways from that. One that it’s okay not to be okay and you really should reach out and ask for help. But of course, the generation that we grew up in as men, quite often you were shown leadership models that were above us, people that were our bosses. You were expected to be in control, not show your emotions, all of those things which there are many people that it’s led to kind of bad outcomes. So I just wanted to call that out first. If anyone’s going through that type of thing, then listening to what Mark said and the fact that he fronted up to it I think is really admirable and was what started this journey for you. You also obviously touched on the fact that the advertising industry of course we know all the old stories from Mad Men all the way through to modern times. It is a fairly addictive industry. It’s one where there are a lot of vices and there’s a lot of opportunity to have fun as well as kind of work hard. In fact, sure, we both grew up in environments which you could describe as work hard, play hard, which at the time felt quite attractive. But looking back at it, I think we probably both disagree. How do you think about what makes a good leader of people to create the right environment in what you just unpacked there? Mark, you basically told your personal story, but you did anchor it back to the environments, the cultures that you’d been in that contributed to that path. It wasn’t just you went down that path, you felt at points that you had impostor syndrome. Again, often a phrase that men don’t use enough, but of course we all have it in some shape or form. When you reflected and looked back on all of this, what does good look like from a person that’s running a team of people, not assets?
Marc Caulfield – 00:12:05: Yeah, I think for me, the number one thing, and this is from personal experience, is really about a leader. So let’s take a CEO. So let’s take the UK for example. CEO, MD, level person or vice president in America, right? That kind of level of person. The best ones who I’ve ever worked with are the ones who understand their weaknesses, okay? So you can go back to people talk about Steve Jobs and people talk about people like that all the time. But the one thing that I’ve learned is the best leaders I’ve worked with are the ones who understand where their skills start and stop and where leaders are not scared to have challenging people underneath them. Okay? The worst companies that I’ve worked at, companies where that could have been brilliant but never quite made it, is where people just hired lots and lots of mini-mes. It takes someone very, very brave to go, okay, let’s say I’m a brilliant ideas person, all right? I’ve got ideas springing out my brain all the time, all right? But what I can’t do is make things happen. The last thing you need is another brilliant ideas person. What you need is someone to come and catch these ideas and go, that’s rubbish, get rid of that. That one’s brilliant, that’s got legs, that one can do with some polishing. That’s what you need. And for me, I think in understanding your own strengths and weaknesses shows that vulnerability. And vulnerability, I think, is so important. For me, I’m always hugely impressed where I have a client, where I have so the way that I work is I always start top down. Unless a company will work with me at board level, I don’t bother working with them because I’m always talking about cultural change and if they won’t engage in that, it’s a waste of time. So the most impressive clients I’ve had and the ones that have become most successful and have gone on to be long serving clients that I’m doing regular work for are ones where you’ve had board level people. It doesn’t have to be a CEO, but it could be a senior person on the board who is willing to be vulnerable. A great example I’ve got is just after I started my business, this was about six years ago, I got the opportunity to go and talk to a very large bank based in Canary Wharf, okay? And this was top level salespeople, all earning an absolute fortune. I walked into this room, clearly no one wanted to be there. They were all on their phones, they were all mucking around on their iPads and their phones. There was no MD in the room, and I was going, that’s a bit annoying. Anyway, so I started the presentation, and I just thought, this is going to be a nightmare. I just need to get this out the way. Anyway, after about ten minutes, the MD showed up and said, apologies for being late. And what was amazing was the first thing he did is this. Mark, can I stop you? Something I want to say to all you guys. Now, this guy was relatively new to this company, but he was clearly revered as a superstar, all right? Literally, he walked in and everyone dropped their phones and was like, big bosses here. The first thing he said is, I suffer from clinical depression. I see a therapist every week, and I have done for the last four years. So, you know, when I say I can’t do a meeting on a Wednesday afternoon, that’s the reason. I’m on a fairly high dose of citalopram, which is an antidepressant, and it’s okay to not be okay. And if anyone discriminates against anybody else because of this, believe you me, your bum won’t hit the seat again. And it was just amazing how suddenly everyone leaned forward. Now, that wasn’t because he had come in and said, put your phones away, and told some people off. It was because he had come in and gone, you know what? I’m the leader, and I’m not always 100% right, and I’m being really honest with you, and I struggle and I struggle every day, and I go and see a therapist every week, and it was amazing. They are actually still a climb. When I walked in on that first day, I thought, this is going to be hideous. I want to get out of this room as quickly as possible. This is a nightmare. And it went from that to that, and only because he was vulnerable. And I think that’s really, really powerful. I think it’s so powerful because we’re all human. You know, leaders are not supermen. Supermen and superwomen. They’re not superheroes, right? You know, and for me, I think, you know, this whole thing around stigma that people talk about. Stigma exists for a couple of reasons. It exists because people believe if they’re vulnerable, if they put their hand up and say, I’m struggling, at worst, they’re going to get fired or they’re going to be overlooked for promotion, or they’re going to be wrapped in cotton wool and left in a corner to rock. And actually, you know what? The bravest thing I ever did was phone that therapist. I mean, I was so scared because I was effectively saying, I’m struggling. I need help. And I was this macho bloke who could handle anything, and I could do anything, and I could do 50 nowadays, and I was fine to actually go, Actually, no, I’m not. I think that’s really, really important. And I think stigma starts right at the top of our hierarchy in this country. I use an image sometimes in my talks, which is that horrible image of Prince William and Harry at their mum’s funeral with poor faces on, with their dad staring at them. Basically, he had told them, you don’t cry or show emotion. It’s funeral.
Paul Frampton – 00:17:45: In the culture that we’ve grown up in, the British stiff up a little culture, kind of contributes and makes it worse. But of course that stigma exists everywhere. As you’re talking about it, I’m thinking of my own. I definitely felt that I had to be the person that showed strength, not show my emotions. And I remember doing an EQ evaluation with another great coach, Sally Henderson, who was explained to me that EQ was made up of multiple different layers, one of which was emotional intelligence. But there are also lots of other aspects of it, one of which was actually expressiveness and sharing your emotions, which was something that I realized I’d spend 20 odd years trying to avoid because I was fine in a work environment where I had a suit on and I could be the leader at the front of the room. But the minute I started to show vulnerability, I felt like I took my armor off and I felt much less capable of doing it. But then I realized that it was something I needed to do. And I also went through a journey of having to learn how to do that better and become vulnerable. And I still would say biologically, chemically inside my body. It doesn’t like it when I do it, but I see that coming down to a different level and kind of occasionally showing that you don’t have all the answers and actually there are things that you’re not good at really changes the way that people respond in a team to you.
Marc Caulfield – 00:19:24: I agree. I think certainly when you’re looking at collaborative environments or you’re looking at creating one team, one dream kind of thing, without being too crass, but when you’re trying to create that, it is really, really important to do that because how many times have you been in meetings? I’ve been in lots, and I’m sure you’ve been in many where you have a meeting that’s supposed to be a collaborative working together kind of environment, but actually one person is driving their own agenda and actually all that happens is as a leader, and very often that person is the leader. It’s really poor leadership. You’ve basically put a load of people in a room to commit their time to try and come up with a really sensible solution. And it’s the whole diversity and inclusion argument as well. The whole point of bringing people together to talk is everyone has a voice. Different people from different backgrounds and different ways of thinking will create a better answer than just one person. Because you know what? You can save everyone time and just do what you want to do if that’s the way you operate. And that’s what I think is really interesting about this leadership. It’s about being vulnerable. It’s about understanding. You don’t know all the answers because if you did, why hire anyone?
Paul Frampton – 00:20:46: Why have a team at all?
Marc Caulfield – 00:20:47: Right. Yeah.
Paul Frampton – 00:20:49: As you’re talking about that, Mark, I recall it was the moment when I realized that it actually wasn’t my job to put the best ideas out or to actually kind of share a great deck of my thinking that was important as a leader. It was actually watching the room, calling out when some people hadn’t had their chance to speak, calling out when there was bad behavior in the room, and actually almost not controlling more nudging the environment that existed in any meeting. Because as you say, if a senior person walks in and behaves a certain way, that shifts people’s behavior. The guard that the MD says I’m vulnerable to, I take antidepressants that shifts people’s behavior. But equally, when people there are some people, particularly in the industry that we’ve grown up in, there’s not a paucity of people with strong opinions or the ability to talk on their feet. In the ad industry, what that creates is dominant voices. And before you know it, you aren’t getting that diversity of thought or kind of input from around the room because the quieter people and often the people that don’t feel like they look like the leader who unfortunately, is still often a man. Therefore, women will actually kind of stay quiet or kind of try and wait for the conversation to turn to an area where they feel more confident, which is, I guess, another manifestation of impostor syndrome.
Marc Caulfield – 00:22:22: I think is absolutely that point is absolutely key. And it’s almost like you watch my TED Talk on it amazing. But for me, one of the key things here is that in my experience, very often the person who says the least actually has the most important thing to say. There are a lot of people who say a lot of words and actually they’re just words. They don’t really mean very much. And if you look at the difference between extroverts and introverts and someone who is introverted will find a collaborative environment really, really exhausting. So an introvert who goes to a party, who puts on a brave face and is very, very chatty to people will be absolutely knackered the following day because it takes out a huge amount from them. And I think what we need to understand is when you’re putting together a group of people, you should really be looking at who are the best people to actually work together, who are the best people, who are going to collaborate effectively together rather than what often happened in our old business is where you had, for example, a creative agency working with a media agency, working with a digital agency, working with a PR agency. All right? All those people would often put in their biggest hitters because they think they need the biggest voice to control either strategy, strategic direction, budget, client control, or whatever it happens to be. Actually, it’s wrong. What you need is the best collaborators. And collaborators have much, much different, many different, softer skills than someone who’s a table thumper who’s going to get what their way because they’re going to share on screen. And I think that’s what a leader is good at. A leader is someone who can see that, who can see the benefit in everybody. And everyone should have a voice, because if they don’t have a voice, why are they there? Yes.
Paul Frampton – 00:24:17: Absolutely. After moving away from the agency world, I now work more in the consulting business. And you learn then that actually asking questions and listening is the most important skill. A bit like in your business. It’s about coaching and asking questions rather than just telling people how to solve their problems. If your therapist had done that for you, it probably wouldn’t have been systemic change.
Marc Caulfield – 00:24:42: No.
Paul Frampton – 00:24:43: Yet when a culture or a leader only rewards or values certain types of behavior, the people that are loudest in the room or the people that are best on their feet. Now, of course, you need people that can do some of those things. But if you get to your point, the makeup of the wider team, and I’d ask those listening to think about how many times have you not given the answer to a team and then given them some time to go away and think about it, how many times have you been surprised at how good the response is?
Marc Caulfield – 00:25:17: Probably quite a few times. Exactly.
Paul Frampton – 00:25:19: We forget that very quickly. I just came off an off site last week where we did exactly that. And part of my thinking this morning was, how do I make sure that I bring the team back to those two days and we continue it to build frequency and encourage people to think about their own commitments and how they take it forward, rather than just ignore that and go, well, now we’re back in the real world.
Marc Caulfield – 00:25:39: Yeah.
Paul Frampton – 00:25:39: Last week was nice because it was a summit that we paid money to get people in the room. But forget all of that. None of that’s important now. We’re going to get back to the day to day that bias exists, I think, in August. Businesses doesn’t.
Marc Caulfield – 00:25:50: It does. And going back to your point then, I think, yes, businesses always need someone who’s great on their feet. But how often do you find this person who’s great on their feet actually can’t deliver the work? And actually that’s where you need to work in collaboration. A brilliant strategist, business strategist. Sometimes they really, really struggle to communicate that, but actually they can get someone who’s brilliant, who’s brilliant on their feet to do it. But you have to work in conjunction. And I just think one of the key things here is it’s used over and over and again, but we do have two ears and one mouth and there’s a very good reason for that. And some people I know seem to have about ten mouths and no ears. But anyway, I think we need to fundamentally, exactly. Yeah.
Paul Frampton – 00:26:44: So let’s go back to where you started with your reset, actually trying to get the right balance. I thought it was really interesting what you said when we were talking before we started recording, but your job is to get the right balance around mental health, around kind of supporting people and making them as good as they can be, whilst also balancing that with high performance. And often, I think where we talk about high performance, whether it’s sport or McKinsey, there’s a danger that high performance leads to burnout. So how do you get that right balance between creating the right team dynamic and delivery? I think it’s easy to say if everyone feels comfortable and they’re physiologically safe and they can contribute, then you’ll get performance. But sometimes that doesn’t happen. So it must be quite hard to get the right balance in different organizations, isn’t it?
Marc Caulfield – 00:27:35: Yes, it’s tricky. It kind of comes down to I think I look at my work through a fairly focused commercial lens. My view is the work that I do does not work unless it delivers profit for a business. There are some simple things. There are some simple things around recruitment not churning, people not churning, staff not being annihilated on things like on things like glass door because your behavior is bad, allowing your talent to bring more talent to you because it becomes the place to work and all of that stuff is lovely. But what it comes down to is managers of people really understanding what are the ambitions of your people? What do they really want to achieve? And how, as a leader or a manager, are you going to enable them and help them, help them to achieve what they want to do? Because high performance isn’t just what a company wants. High performance is about what is that individual’s own goal? What do they want to do? High performance is not just about, oh, here you go, there’s your KPR. You need to bring in X amount of money because actually that might not sit with that person. And high performance could be someone getting the best out of other people, someone collaborating super effectively. It could be high performance, could be you become the go to person when you, as a supplier for a company, have to work with other suppliers. You’re the person that can pull that together. There’s lots and lots of different things of high performance. High performance sometimes can be viewed as who can make the biggest bonus, who’s going to bring in the most amount of money? And it’s all profit, profit, profit. High performance. To me is more than that. High performance is what is the thing that is going to get someone out of bed on a Monday morning? I’m never expecting everyone to jump out of bed on Monday going, Woohoo, it’s the week. But what I don’t want anyone to feel is, in my worst times, what I felt on a Sunday night, which was, oh, my God, here we go again. I can’t do this. And believe you me, there were times when I was feeling particularly bad and in this particular pitch I mentioned, when I genuinely if there’d been a gun on the table, I would have picked it up and taken that route. I felt that awful. And I don’t want anyone to feel like that. That’s not a way to live your life. So for me, high performance is all about having a diverse, brilliant group of people, all of whom can be honest because there’s an honest culture about what they want to achieve themselves. And as a business enabling people to achieve the maximum, you’re always going to have some people who are very financially driven. That’s great, all right, because businesses, that’s how businesses work. But you need people who are also focused on camaraderie, collaboration between looking after people, creating an environment where people can be open and talk about things. And I think that’s what high performance is. When I look back at the best businesses I’ve ever worked in, generally speaking, they’ve been startups, so generally they have been organizations where everyone where the key founder, the major shareholder, has got their sleeves rolled up and is doing everything as well and everyone pulls together. And it’s a tricky one, you often get to about 50 to 100 people and you start to lose that. But I think organizations that can keep some of that drive, and the only way you do it is really by understanding what people’s personal objectives are. What do they want to achieve? How far do they want to get? What does good performance look like to them? And you know what? Sometimes you have to have a really, really difficult conversation. Because if someone’s high performance looks like yeah, I’ll come in a couple of days a week, and I’ll do the bare minimum. Maybe they’re not the right people for your business, but as a general rule, assuming you hire correctly and you do that, you have to bear in mind that not every CEO’s idea of high performance is everyone else’s. And that’s where you alienate people. So I think it’s complex. I think it’s complex, but it’s more than money.
Paul Frampton – 00:31:48: No, I really like that reframing of high performance. It’s a good reminder that it isn’t just about the team or the business, it’s about the individual as well. So, Mark, quite often we see people that are very good at saying the right thing, whether it’s on LinkedIn or on a stage, particularly in the ad industry. I know you work in much broader circles and you’ve shared with me that you’ve seen it’s pretty widespread, it’s not atypical.
Marc Caulfield – 00:32:20: Yeah, it’s everywhere, because we’re dealing with humans and humans are humans.
Paul Frampton – 00:32:28: Do you think things are improving? Is the virtue signaling getting moved past? It feels like there are still quite a few leaders that will say one thing when they’re being interviewed or post about it and then actually you ask people what they think about that leader and it’s not there. So to me, that talks very much about authenticity. Give me almost like a state of the nation on where you think business is from this respect right now.
Marc Caulfield – 00:32:59: I think we’re getting there. I think there’s been a marked improvement over the last few years. I feel there’s a long way to go, though. I think there is a lot of tickbox exercises out there. I feel there are still too many leaders who go, oh yeah, this is the kind of cool, trendy thing to talk about. I must talk about that. The reality is that I feel we’re in a bit of a dichotomy at the moment. We have a lot of an awful lot of leaders who still come from a very old school mentality of well, in my day I did 50, nowadays, seven days a week. I don’t know what’s I don’t know what’s wrong with people compared to a new set of people who are worrying about work life balance at a very, very early age when actually most of us, you and I at our age, weren’t. So I think we’re in a difficult position. I think as that older school leader moves on, retires, we will find ourselves in a position where people will start to understand that unless you look after your people, and I mean look after them in a more kind of mental, physical, well being kind of way, you will not get the best out of them. It’s a bit like having a portion on eleven and sticking really cheap fuel on it. It’s not going to work very well. And that covers all sorts of areas for me. I think there is a lot of virtue signaling going on. There is a lot of people saying the right thing. But actually, in time, if people say things enough, it starts to become real. And so I believe in time we will move to that. One of my issues, I think, in the space I work in is I see too many people getting very excited and animated around Mental Health Awareness Week or this day or that month and then stopping. It is not about that. You can’t have a lovely week where you look after everyone and then the following Monday you kick them in the head. All right? And.
Paul Frampton – 00:35:12: Have done a lot of that or wanted to get something in the press to go, we’ve got this incredible new initiative for our people.
Marc Caulfield – 00:35:18: Exactly, exactly. And and from my point of view. The other the other aspect of when I choose not to work with people is when they asked me to come in and do a suit, you know, two or three talks, and I go, okay, and then what’s going to happen? And if the answer is that’s it, I’ll go, I’m not really interested in doing that. What I’m interested in is building a long term relationship where I help you become brilliant, and I help you become brilliant at this. And actually, the benefit, the financial benefit is huge for you guys. And I think for me, it really comes down to, you know what, there’s a lot of people out there out there doing some good work, I think. I think there’s two. But equally, there’s too many people who think, you know, a free massage once a month, a bowl of fruit on the table, and doing bits and bobs like that, and having an employee assistance program is the answer, right? Well, it’s not, because most EAP programs give you six or seven free sessions. It’s highly unlikely that anyone who’s got a serious issue going on is going to have that solved. Within that, it’s about prevention rather than cure. And there’s a brilliant, brilliant quote by Desmond Tutu, which is, rather than fishing people out the river, we need to understand why they’re falling in in the first place. That’s a great quote, and it’s absolutely true. My work is about not letting people get to the stage. I got to it’s about ensuring businesses and leaders act in a human way. It’s anything a human being. It’s not complicated.
Paul Frampton – 00:36:54: No, but we forget, sadly, we forget that we’re humans in business, and not least because we have lots of labels that almost were designed years back to actually focus people on delivering output. You’re being managed. You’re being directed. Here’s your PR. And look, I’m not dismissing that you need check ins with people, and you need ways of measuring performance, but there is a much more human way to do it, as you said, and there are quite a lot of businesses that, on the surface, have some great benefits. I mean, Uber would be quite a good example. If you looked at the benefits when you’re going for a job there. When Travis was the CEO, you think, wow, but then look at the toxic culture that he is the leader created.
Marc Caulfield – 00:37:39: One of the things that I say to many young people who are going to, oh, I mean, after this job at Google or Facebook, and they go, right, ask yourself a question. Why do they have three restaurants? Why do they have sleep pods? Why do you have your own plant there? Why do you have there is a reason for these things. You probably won’t need a flat. I’m just saying there are lots and lots of businesses out there that look amazing, and you just have to ask yourself those questions. Why do you get all those things? Well, probably there a long time.
Paul Frampton – 00:38:12: Yeah. They want you to stay at work, perhaps. Yeah, you’re right.
Marc Caulfield – 00:38:16: Yes. Possibly there’s no reason to go home.
Paul Frampton – 00:38:19: And I recall, actually, in between Havata and the job I do now, which I was chatting to you earlier about when I went and took that role because it was a tech start up. Technology was interesting, it was disruptive, and I did learn a great deal. But I put to the bottom of my list, I put, does it have the right culture and does the company believe in the same things I did? I compromised that and I learned from that experience that that was a very dumb thing to do. That should be at the top of your list for anything you do.
Marc Caulfield – 00:38:49: Exactly.
Paul Frampton – 00:38:50: In some ways kind of what you’re sharing is that actually why you’re so passionate and pumped up to go on a TED stage or BAFTA stage, is because you’re trying to help people not go down the path you went, which is a very personal, but very kind of purpose driven kind of thing to be to focus your work on, right?
Marc Caulfield – 00:39:10: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a crass statement, but it is genuinely, I don’t feel like I work. I feel like I impart knowledge and things that I’ve learned along the way. It doesn’t really feel like work. I know that sounds a bit crass and it lots of people say that, but genuinely, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like I’m imparting the stuff I’ve learned the hard way along the way. And if I can stop people from doing that and I can help leaders be better, we’re in, why not?
Paul Frampton – 00:39:48: So, Mark, that feels like a pretty good place for us to leave things. I just have one final question for you, very linked to what you just said, which is, it took quite a long time for you to recognize that you’re in a bad place and how to then get out of it, and you had to face up to the fact you needed to ask for help. What advice would you give to others that could potentially be in some similar situation? I mean, it doesn’t need to be the same, but they may be feeling that where they’re at is not the right place for them, or that actually they are having panic attacks and it’s much more regular thing than people would think. I certainly had them in the business. The tech startup I was in, I had a panic attack for the first time where I had to walk outside and couldn’t get my breath back and I didn’t know.
Marc Caulfield – 00:40:38: It’s horrendous, isn’t it? Absolutely horrendous.
Paul Frampton – 00:40:40: Horrible experience. Really horrible experience.
Marc Caulfield – 00:40:43: I mean, you feel like you’re having half that. It’s absolutely awful. I mean, for me, it’s about, you know, one of the things that the whole mental health industry bangers on about is talking. It’s good to talk. It’s great to talk, and it is, provided you talk to the right person. Now, the problem is sometimes sometimes people will make poor decisions, and sometimes you’ll find it’s your friends. And, you know, I’ve got a very good friend of mine who, when I told him what I was going through, he just kind of went, well, that’s just normal, isn’t it? You know, which is very, very unhelpful for me. It’s about, you know, trying to recognize some of those signs of difficulty that you might be struggling with, which I do a load of work with. But there will be things around change, change in behavior. Am I normally someone who’s on time for work and normally well dressed and groomed? Or I’m quite sociable and all of a sudden I’m finding myself I’m wanting to hide myself away. It’s about recognizing those sorts of things. And actually the best thing you can do, I know it’s frustrating sometimes is to go and speak to your doctor, okay? Because GPs can be frustrating. They can be very quick to be writing prescriptions. But you’ve got to start somewhere. And it’s that first conversation, okay? There are lots and lots of brilliant websites out there which have a whole array of different search criteria for different counselors or therapists. Not everyone can afford that. They can be quite overwhelming. A great place to start is to go and talk to your GP, spend a bit of time working out who the right person might be. For me, I knew I had to talk to a woman, not a man. I knew I could never speak to a bloke about this for whatever reason. And if you’ve got any friends or family or someone who, you know, has been through some difficulty themselves, they’re always a great place to start as well. You’ve got to start the conversation. It’s the hardest thing to do. But there was a brilliant Martin Luther King thing about, you see this huge staircase in front of you, and that’s really daunting. But just take the first step. And that first step will often be admitting to yourself that you’re struggling and then deciding which way is best to go. If you’ve got a GP who’s a decent person, who, you know, talk to them. If not, I’m sure every one of us knows someone who’s been through some difficulty at some point, and they will always be the better person to speak to. Just be wary of getting that wrong. Trying to ensure that you’re speaking to someone who will have some sort of empathy there. And don’t necessarily go to your boss, first of all, unless you know, your boss has been through it yourself. That would be my advice. Starting it starting it is tricky.
Paul Frampton – 00:43:34: No, that’s great advice. And being okay with not being okay and encouraging people to talk, but really thinking about who you’re going to talk to, I think is a really good build, because I think often, as you say, people just go and talk to whoever they think is right. And if that first conversation doesn’t go right, then that could be a kind of cycle of worse kind of behavior.
Marc Caulfield – 00:44:00: Well, it took me four or five attempts to find the right therapist. Now, that’s extreme. I know lots of people who’ve been very lucky and have found a great one first time around, but I went from a series of people who just there was just something that they just I knew I needed someone quite punchy to get stuff out of me. And I ended up finding this very tough Danish lady who took no nonsense from me, and that’s exactly what I needed. Some people need something much softer, but I found people just saying, and how does that make you feel? How do you feel with that? That just didn’t work for me. What I needed was someone go, right, tell me what’s going on. And it’s just different things for different people. But anyone who watches this, you’re more than welcome to contact me. And I know a lot of brilliant people to speak to if I can’t help myself.
Paul Frampton – 00:44:56: Thank you, Mark. If you do want to check out more information, I mean, Mark Caulfield is easy to find on LinkedIn and markcaulfield.com is Mark’s website, MLC.
Marc Caulfield – 00:45:07: By the way, people I was born in Paris, being very exhausted.
Paul Frampton – 00:45:12: And the last thing I’ll just say, because I know we will have some people that will hear that message, but the other message, I guess, as a rally cry would be no matter what kind of position you’re in in a business, you can always start to shape your leadership style. And as Mark and I have talked about, it’s authenticity and it’s actual kind of understanding how to get the best out of people, that should be your leadership style. There are lots of texts and books that tell you to go one way or another. But I, and I know Mark would agree, would very much recommend that. What you do is you kind of pick the traits that you feel connect with yourself and then you connect them together to create your own leadership style. There is no one kind of perfect form of leadership.
Marc Caulfield – 00:45:55: Authenticity is absolutely right. And for me, I think that’s what, in a way, made me fall over all those years back. It was a constant facade. And actually, by the time I could actually be myself, that made a big difference. And it’s never too late. I didn’t start my business until I was 47. It took me a long time to find my purpose in life. You know, there you go. But when you do it’s brilliant.
Paul Frampton – 00:46:29: You know, it yeah. Lovely to speak, a great place to finish. So, Mark, thank you so much for, by one, being so honest and candid about your own journey, but also for all of your great advice. Appreciate it.
Marc Caulfield – 00:46:39: My pleasure. Enjoyed it. Hope everyone enjoys it. Speak to you soon Paul. Cheers. Bye.